By Chris Burke
August 29, 2013
Jadeveon Clowney tallied 13 sacks in 2012, a Gamecocks' record. Could he surpass that this season?
Bob Kupbens/Icon SMI
Chris Burke's NFL Draft Big Board
Jadeveon Clowney
South Carolina, junior
6-6, 274
The only decision facing the team sitting No. 1 next May is whether it needs Clowney or a franchise quarterback in a worse way. If said team passes on a QB, Clowney -- barring a complete collapse or a major injury this season -- is the consensus top prospect. The only knock on Clowney's game is that he occasionally takes some plays off. That's enough to make one wonder how dominant he could be if he cranked up to maximum effort on every down.
Teddy Bridgewater
Louisville, junior
6-3, 198
The quarterback in that Clowney conundrum very well might be Bridgewater. He's much closer to the QBs of the 2012 draft class than '13 -- meaning that he has the skill set to step in and play from Day 1. Bridgewater is athletic enough to star in an offense that features some option, and he has the arm to make any throw in the book.
Jake Matthews
Texas A&M, senior
6-5, 305
Smooth. That's the word that comes to mind when watching Matthews move his feet on the outside. He looks like a basketball player doing defensive shuffle drills, and I mean that in the best possible way. Matthews can turn inside or outside, then reset and pick up his man again.
C.J. Mosley
Alabama, senior
6-2, 232
Mosley could have been a Round 1 pick had he declared for the draft after his junior year. Though he had four sacks last season, Mosley is not a great pass-rusher, which is why most scouts think he will play inside in the NFL. He'll excel in either place. A phenomenal linebacker, Mosley is capable of going sideline-to-sideline or falling into coverage.
Taylor Lewan
Michigan, senior
6-8, 308
Four offensive tackles were picked in the top 11 in last year's draft. Lewan would have joined the party had he left Michigan early, and many questioned his decision to return. His size cannot be taught, and he moves very well. Penalties occasionally burn him, and he's had the luxury of playing in front of very mobile QBs (Denard Robinson, Devin Gardner).
Marqise Lee
USC, junior
6-0, 195
There are areas of the game in which Lee needs to improve -- route-running, strength, etc. But 118 catches, which Lee had last season, do not happen by accident. He is a legit No. 1 receiver prospect and should only get better.
Anthony Barr
UCLA, senior
6-4, 248
Barr is like a defensive version of Lee, in that he earned 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss last season, even with a still-developing game. He has just one year at linebacker under his belt, having been a running back in his first two UCLA seasons. Barr still possesses some of that running back speed off the edge.
Louis Nix
Notre Dame, senior
6-3, 340
The danger with players of Nix's size -- he's every bit that 340-pound listing -- is that they're often one-trick ponies, content to sit and clog a lane. Nix can do that, as a 3-4 nose or 4-3 tackle, but he also shows plus-effort getting off the ball and finishing plays.
Tajh Boyd
Clemson, senior
6-1, 225
I get why others have Boyd lower in the early rankings. His accuracy is a touch-and-go proposition, with many throws aided by weapons such as Sammy Watkins and (up until now) DeAndre Hopkins. The upside here is just so high, though, especially with the NFL placing more and more importance on mobile QBs.
Bradley Roby
Ohio State, junior
5-11, 192
Roby will sit out Ohio State's opener on a suspension after an offseason incident at a bar (a charge of disorderly conduct was dropped), so teams will dig deep into his maturity. If everything checks out, Roby should be the first cornerback off the board -- and maybe the second defender behind Clowney. He's that good.
Will Sutton
Arizona State, senior
6-1, 288
Do you want a player who's a prototypical fit at his position? Or do you want a guy who knows how to make plays? Sutton is the latter. His size probably will drive him down some boards. (Sutton actually revealed that he received a fifth-round grade from the NFL advisory committee this year). Good luck stopping this guy if he has a chip on his shoulder.
Sammy Watkins
Clemson, junior
6-1, 205
Watkins was suspended for two games last season after an arrest on marijuana-possession charges, then struggled with injuries. So his numbers were way down from 2011. He's in line for a major revival in '13. Watkins challenges defenses at all areas of the field, and he has terrific hands.
Cyrus Kouandjio
Alabama, junior
6-6, 310
If you could stretch Chance Warmack out and turn him into a tackle, he might resemble Kouandjio. The junior's strong, often-dominant game on the blindside resembles what Warmack did along the interior for Alabama. When all is said and done, don't be surprised at all if Kouandjio is the first tackle selected.
Mike Evans
Texas A&M, sophomore (RS)
6-5, 225
Too high? Maybe. But if Evans follows up his stellar redshirt freshman season by showing off improved speed and strength ... look out. He has reliable hands to go with elite size, and he catches just about everything thrown in his direction, whether a defender's in the way or not.
Ryan Shazier
Ohio State, junior
6-2, 222
Say hello to the new breed of outside linebacker in the NFL. Shazier is lighter than the traditional 'backer, but he is extremely fast, both in diagnosing plays and flying to the football. With more mobile quarterbacks around, teams need defenders like Shazier.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Washington, junior
6-6, 276
Seferian-Jenkins spent a day in jail this summer after a DUI arrest, so he's another guy with potential red flags. There's no question about his talent as a pass-catcher. Drop him into the right offense, and Seferian-Jenkins could push 80 receptions. If he shows a consistent willingness to block, teams might consider him near the top 10.
Jason Verrett
TCU, senior
5-10, 176
Verrett does not have the size of, say, Dee Milliner, Xavier Rhodes or Desmond Trufant, three first-round picks from 2013. He might be faster than all of those players, though, and he dominates the football when it's in the air.
Brett Hundley
UCLA, sophomore (RS)
6-3, 222
The Hundley-vs.-Marcus Mariota debate will rage in the Pac-12 all season and may continue into the draft, should either player attempt an early NFL leap. Put me on the Hundley bandwagon for now. He can take a hit, move the pocket, deliver all the throws and is a bit in front of Mariota when it comes to footwork.
Kyle Van Noy
BYU, senior
6-3, 245
There are substantially varied opinions on Van Noy. Count me among the believers. Is he a perfect prospect? Hardly. But he has an innate ability to get into the backfield (44.5 career tackles for loss, 22 sacks) coupled with the versatility to line up just about anywhere BYU asks.
Loucheiz Purifoy
Florida, junior
6-1, 185
The Gators plan to use Purifoy some at wide receiver this year, in case you wanted a hint at his athleticism. Purifoy is cut more from the usual corner mold, as opposed to the 5-9 Verrett, and he makes up for the deficiencies in his game with his sensational physical gifts.
Aaron Lynch
South Florida, sophomore (RS)
6-6, 244
That weight is correct, which means that Lynch is down about 25 pounds from when he recorded 5.5 sacks as a freshman at Notre Dame. How well Lynch bulks back up -- not to mention how he plays after a redshirt year off -- is something to watch. His coach, Willie Taggert, compared him to Aldon Smith.
Marcus Mariota
Oregon, sophomore (RS)
6-4, 211
My guess is that if Mariota decides to turn pro after this season, it's because he far outplayed this ranking. The potential is there for Mariota to be a dynamic NFL QB, doubly so if he finds a coach willing to utilize his dual-threat abilities.
Ha'Sean "Ha Ha" Clinton-Dix
Alabama, junior
6-1, 208
Clinton-Dix does a little bit of everything for the Crimson Tide, but he might be at his best as a center fielder. There, he has the freedom to roam as a playmaker, which he did to the tune of five picks last season. Asked to come up in run support or as a blitzer, Clinton-Dix loses some of his effectiveness.
David Yankey
Stanford, senior
6-5, 311
Yankey is back at guard this season after playing left tackle last year. His ability to jump from the inside out and back again will be a plus for NFL scouts. That said, he probably has a brighter future at guard, where he can use his power in the run game ... and mask some of his drop-back protection issues.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
Oregon, junior
5-10, 190
Really a solid set of skills here from a player who, like Verrett, makes up for being slightly undersized by showing extra aggressiveness when the ball is in the air. Ekpre-Olomu broke up 20 passes last year and, if teams keep throwing at him, he might top that mark in 2013.
Stephon Tuitt
Notre Dame, junior
6-7, 322
Of all the players eligible for next season's draft, Tuitt is one of the bigger mysteries heading into the 2013 season. He added 20 pounds this offseason after sports hernia surgery, so how he handles that weight will be critical. Does he still have the surprising speed and quickness he did before?
Cyril Richardson
Baylor, senior
6-5, 335
Linemen can walk the line between being huge and too huge. They slide into the second category when their size limits their endurance or speed. Richardson does not have those problems. He uses every bit of his 340 pounds to drive forward in the run game.
Adrian Hubbard
Alabama, junior
6-6, 252
Maybe the most difficult top-40 player for me to pin down for Big Board 1.0. Hubbard has moments of sheer brilliance coming off the edge; other times, he's a passive onlooker to the action. Is it effort? Scheme? Endurance? If he can keep the switch flipped on 100 percent of the time, he'll be a highly coveted NFL prospect.
Timmy Jernigan
Florida State, junior
6-2, 294
Here's what you will see from Jernigan: He pops up at the snap, waves his arms in front of him sort of like a WR would execute a head fake, then goes inside or out with a swim move. And that's pretty much it. If he can round out his repertoire and get better off the snap, Jernigan could be borderline unblockable inside.
Dominique Easley
Florida, senior
6-2, 283
Based on what we've seen from Easley thus far, this might be too high. Given what he might do this season, on the other hand, it could be way too low. Easley will play a tackle position after spending much of 2012 at end. He has been much more disruptive inside, so his stock is on skyrocket watch.
Stephen Morris
Miami, senior
6-2, 218
I was lukewarm on Morris after a couple viewings, but his game has grown on me with each additional tape. He appears to play a very cerebral game -- diagnosing plays early, getting through his progressions. While his height may scare off a team or two, the rest of the package is close to being there.
Antonio Richardson
Tennessee, junior
6-6, 327
Richardson does well to get back in his stance and set up a base while pass-protecting. He also can drive forward with menace as a run-blocker. Obviously, the size here is a plus, especially if he's to stay at LT in the pros. Defenders can beat him inside with quickness, and he'll occasionally fail to see blitzers to his outside shoulder.
Donte Moncrief
Ole Miss, junior
6-3, 226
Moncrief started last year hot, then finished the regular season strong -- highlighted by a 173-yard, three-TD showing vs. Mississippi State, in which he worked over both Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay. The junior can make tough catches, then turn them into big gains. Adding consistency, in all facets, will be the key.
De'Anthony Thomas
Oregon, junior
5-9, 176
The natural comparisons for Thomas will be to 2013 draftees Tavon Austin and Denard Robinson. But he is more of a pure running back than Austin and is further along as a receiver than Robinson. Thomas' size will work against him as a No. 1 RB in the NFL, but someone will find a way to use a player capable of taking it to the house every time he touches the football.
Brandon Coleman
Rutgers, senior
6-6, 220
Initially, I had Coleman off the Big Board, only to circle back. Why? Because his size and ability to work himself open off the snap are traits too obvious to ignore. I wavered because Coleman has work to do. He is too inconsistent in snagging the ball, and Rutgers' offense doesn't challenge him much with varied routes.
Trent Murphy
Stanford, senior
6-6, 261
The Stanford defense is getting a lot of love at the moment (including Shayne Skov being featured on the pages of SI's season preview), and rightfully so. Murphy is the best player on that unit. His speed-power-size combo will make him an appealing prospect for teams in search of a quick defensive end or a rush linebacker.
Johnny Manziel
Texas A&M, sophomore (RS)
6-1, 210
Ask 10 different scouts and you're likely to get 10 differing opinions on Johnny Football. He has less-than-ideal height, very questionable arm strength and carries major questions about his maturity. Manziel also has incredible physical skills, and he should improve as a pocket passer in his second season as a starter.
Christian Jones
Florida State, senior
6-4, 235
Jones moved to the weakside in the Seminoles' 3-4 scheme last season and proceeded to lead the team in tackles. We should see him more as a pass-rusher in 2013, with Bjoern Werner now in Indianapolis. Should he prove a lethal force there, on top of being able to defend the run and cover, he might be a top-20 pick.
Colt Lyerla
Oregon, junior
6-5, 246
Lyerla is not as big as Seferian-Jenkins, but he might be just as much of a matchup nightmare. The stats (32 catches in two seasons) do not really do justice to what Lyerla is capable of in an offense. Think Aaron Hernandez -- Lyerla can move around pretty much anywhere, from the slot to the backfield. His blocking needs to be steadier in 2013.
David Fales
San Jose State, senior
6-3, 220
This spot came down to Fales, Ra'Shede Hageman, Lache Seastrunk, Jackson Jeffcoat and about six other quarterbacks. Fales got the nod because he has shown himself to be a terrific QB, able to move and reset his feet, spot the ball on a dime and make good decisions. And yet ... I don't know. The arm strength isn't there yet, though new offensive coordinator Jimmie Dougherty told SI Fales spent the offseason working on that specific aspect of his game.
STAPLES: CFB Week 1 Walkthrough
CRYSTAL BALL: Predictions for 2013 CFB season
PREVIEW HUB: All of SI's 2013 CFB preview content

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